Oil and gas fields overview

In the Dutch subsurface more than 470 gas fields are discovered, about 250 fields are developed. The Groningen gas field is by far the largest . The other fields are therefore called 'small fields'.

Groningen gasveld

The Netherlands is the largest producer of natural gas in the European Union. The Groningen field is amongst the 10 largest gas fields in the world and there are hundreds of small gas fields in the Netherlands subsurface. Oil reserves however are limited, despite the 48 discovered fields.

Gas exploration and production

The natural gas resource is defined as the volume of natural gas that can be produced from discovered gas accumulations in the subsurface of the Netherlands. Many of these accumulations have already been developed and are currently on production. As a result only part of the initially producible volume of gas remains. The remaining commercially producible volumes of natural gas in the proven accumulations are defined as the (remaining) reserves. Discovered volumes of gas which are currently not considered to be commercially recoverable due to one or more contingencies are called contingent resources.

As at 1 January 2016 there are 477 proven natural gas accumulations in the Netherlands. 

Status of accumulations Onshore Offshore Total
1. Developed      
a. In production 106 147 253
b. Gas storage facility 4    
2. Undeveloped      
a. Production start 2013-2017 12 21 33
b. Other 32 45 77
3. Productie ceased      
a. Closed in 19 9 28
b. Abandoned 31 51 82
  204 273 477

The resource estimates for developed accumulations are based on the information supplied by the operators in their annual reports and submitted in accordance with the Mining Act. As a consequence of the adoption of the PRMS, the resources are from now on subdivided in Reserves and Contingent resources (subcategory Development pending) To a certain degree this corresponds with the formerly used subdivision in developed and undeveloped fields and as such does not result in a change in trend. The use of PRMS as resource classification results in a uniform way of reporting. Up until last year the remaining reserves at the time of conversion in gas buffers, Norg, Grijpskerk and Alkmaar  were reported separately. As of this annual report these are included in the regular reserves. 

Gas resources in the Netherlands as at 1 January 2016 in billions of Geq

Accumulations Reserves Contingent resources Total
Groningen 656 7 663
Others Onshore 83 37 120
Offshore 102 25 127
Total 841 69 910

Restriced to conventional gas accumulations
According to the PRMS classification shale gas is still in the category of prospective resources in a not yet proven play. Hence the reporting here is restricted to the conventional gas resources. Although there is much attention for the unconventional gas resources (such as shale gas and coal bed methane) the exploration potential remains very uncertain. 

This section of the annual review deals with the expected trend in the supply of Dutch natural gas (domestic production) in the next 25 years (2016 to 2040). Estimates are largely based on data submitted by operators. The reference date for the present review is 1 January 2016. All the volumes are given in billions of m3 Groningen gas equivalents.

This section deals with the expected trend in the supply of Dutch natural gas (domestic production) in the next 25 years (2016 to 2040). Estimates are largely based on data submitted by operators. The reference date for the present review is 1 January 2016. All the volumes are given in billions of m3 Groningen gas equivalents.

The prognosis of production from Dutch natural gas will again be restricted to the small fields this year. No long term predicition of production from the Groningen field can be established due to the continuing discission on gas extraction and associated induced seismicity above the Groningen field. The NAM has submitted an updated production plan for the Groningen field to the ministry of Economic Affairs for approval. On 24 June 2016 the minister sent a lettert to the Second chamber which stated that the cabinet decided to establish the level of production of gas from the Groningen field at 24 billion m3 per year in the draft assent. In order to establish security of supply, this decision allows for an increase in the maximum level should winters colder than average occur. As the decision is not definitive yet, the estimated supply for the next 25 years (2016 to 2040) is restricted to the small fields and as yet undiscovered accumulations (exploration potential). In addition to the estimated future production the figure below also provides the actual natural gas production in the Netherlands for the period 2006-2016. 92% of the prognosed production from the small fields for the year 2015 was actually realised.

The estimated domestic production from the small fields is based on the following:

  • The summation of the profiled reserves and contingent resources from the subclass ‘development pending’. These profiles have been provided by the gas producers in their annual reports (in accordance with article 113 of the Mining Decree).
  • The summation of the simulated production profiles of as yet undiscovered accumulations. These profiles have been prepared using a simulation model that takes into account the number of wells expected to be drilled (11 exploration wells per year and a minimum risked value to investment ratio (RVIR) of 0.1), the expected recoverable volumes of the prospects, the expected productivity of the well and the possibility of success.
  • The production of the reserves in underground gasstorage facilities (i.e. that part of the gas that at conversion to UGS was originally present in the reservoir) has not been taken into account in the prognosis of production. This as the timing of production of this gas is highly uncertain, currently this is not expected to start before 2040.


Oil exploration and production

As at 1 January 2013 there are 48 proven natural oil accumulations in the Netherlands. At present, 12 of these accumulations are producing.

Status of oil acccumulations Onshore Offshore Total
1. Developed      
Producing 2 10 12
2. Undeveloped      
a. Production start 2013-2017 0 4 4
b. Otjher 10 10 20
3. Productie ceased      
Abandoned 2 0 2
Total 22 26 48


Oil resources as at 1 January 2016
The resource estimates for developed fields are based on the figures and information submitted by the operators in accordance with the Mining Act. The estimates follow the Petroleum Resource Management System (SPE, 2011). The table below shows the reserves (i.e. that part of the resources that can be produced commercially and has been qualified as such by the operators) and also the contingent resources (i.e. ‘production pending’ – that part of the resources that may be reasonably be assumed to be commercially recoverable, but which do not yet meet all the criteria for classification as such).The contingent resources with higher uncertainty of coming into production (On hold, unclarified or unviable) have not been included. As the resource classification is project-based, reserves and contingent resources may both be present within one accumulation. The total oil resources are 31.6 million Sm3: 18.0 million Sm3 oil reserves plus 13.5 million Sm3 contingent resources.


Area Reserves Contigent resources Total
Onshore 9,0 11,5 20,5
Offshore 9,12,0 2,0 11,1
Total 18,0 13,5 31,6

Oil resources in million Sm3 as at 1 January 2016

The figure below (click to enlarge) shows oil production since 2006 and the prognosis for the next 25 years. This prognosis is based on the annual reports of the operators. Compared to last year’s forecast, the production has lagged behind expected production slightly. This is due to the halt in production in the Schoonebeek field as a result of problems in disposal of produced water. The expeced increase in production as of 2017 is mostly from the Q13-Amstel and Schoonebeek fields. Moreover several new offshore fields will come into production.